With deadlifts being the next lift that we are going to max on, I thought it would be a good idea to go over a few tips that will help you to lift safely and hit bigger numbers.
1. Keep the bar close to your body. Ideally the bar should drag against or be nearly touching your legs on the entire way up. I see this common mistake as I’m coaching. When the bar is out away from your body, you are causing dangerous torque on you back. I have seen it before in competition when a friend of mine made this mistake as he was lifting and unfortunately he shattered one of his vertebrae. So by keeping the bar close you should be in better position.
2. Wear flat sole shoes or go barefoot. One reason why using flat soled shoes or going barefoot works better is that you are lower to the ground. This means that you are pulling from less of a deficit with the smaller amount of cushion that is between your feet and the ground. You are also the most stable when you are barefoot. If you don’t want to deadlift barefoot that’s fine, try to wear flat soled shoes such as converse or minimalist shoes. The additional cushion may make your feet feel better as you are lifting, but just remember if you are trying to get every last pound that you can then you may want to consider minimal cushion.
3. Use your breath. As you may already know, breathing is key in lifting, and exercising for that matter. But are you sure that you are breathing the best way? Although it is not bad to inhale through you mouth before you start your lift, I want you to try something for me: take a big breath in through you mouth. Now do you feel how all that air that you inhaled seems to have filled up you lungs? Alright now try the same experiment only inhale through you nose and see if you can feel the difference. As you inhale through your nose, you are filling up your diaphragm which in turn builds pressure behind your abs. This forms a “safety belt” by using the internal pressure from the air you just inhaled.
4. Add additional torque through your hips. As you are getting into your starting stance, you go through your mental check list. Alright so my hips are back….my back is flat…..I just took a big breath of air (through my nose)….my shoulders are set….I think I’m ready to start and crush this weight….WRONG. So you think you have gotten all of your muscles tight and ready to go, but you forgot one major muscle group that could use a little more torque to ensure that you are truly ready to start the lift. As you get set you need to drive your knees outward. This will ensure that your hips are fully contracted. The additional torque is going to make you hips more stable which means you are lifting safer. Now that you have gone through everything and you are ready to begin the lift, I have one last tip for you to do.
5. Pull your chest up. It is better to think of this movement as pulling your chest up rather than pulling the weight back and up. By concentrating on pulling your chest up, you will be less likely to round your back. Problems can occur if you allow your back to round out as you are pulling the weight. Most of the injuries during deadlift occur when there is a change of back position during the movement. So if you can’t get to the proper starting position with your back flat then you should end your deadlift in the same back position as you started it in. The same applies with starting with a flat back, you should keep the same back position through the whole movement.